As the world attempts to overcome the coronavirus pandemic, it’s necessary for employers and business leaders to understand that COVID-19 may have permanently changed many aspects of their operations.
Even though COVID-19 disrupted many organisations in various ways, it also forced them to explore new methods and practices in an attempt to navigate the situation. As a result, the pandemic can be seen as the catalyst for many trends and changes that transcend specific sectors and lay out new expectations and possibilities.
Key Post-coronavirus Trends
Some of the most important patterns to be aware of include:
- Remote work—As a trend that was already on the rise prior to the pandemic, remote work’s popularity and utilisation have risen rapidly since COVID-19 forced many organisations to shutter. Employers may have found that a physical workplace may not even be necessary at all in a post-pandemic world. Furthermore, the ability to employ remote workers creates larger talent pools for organisations to find top talent.
- New technology—Part of what makes remote work possible is the enhanced connectivity provided by the internet and various online programs. The pandemic accelerated the importance of technology in everyday life. As such, it’s necessary for organisations to educate themselves on how to optimise the use of new capabilities, such as 5G, augmented and virtual reality experiences, and smart devices.
- Supply chain changes—The world has seen a number of high-profile supply chain disruptions during the pandemic, such as the blockage of the Suez Canal. Organisations with operations that involve shipping or the transport of goods must remain apprised of any developments that may affect their ability to move goods in a timely manner. The continuing changes related to customs controls, imports and exports between the EU and UK after Brexit may further complicate these issues.
- Social priorities—It’s key for employers to understand the issues that are important to their workers, partners and customers. For example, in the midst of the pandemic, the Black Lives Matter movement led to an increased focus on issues like equality and diversity. These concepts must be understood and properly implemented in modern workplaces. Similarly, environmental sustainability has become a higher priority for many organisations. Reassessing operations to be more eco-friendly—by reducing carbon emissions and waste, for example—will be vital.
- More data—Given the rise of online experiences during the pandemic, organisations must reconsider their management of data and sensitive information. For example, COVID-19 lockdowns resulted in more online shopping. As such, there has been a drastic increase in the amount of consumer data being created, stored and shared. According to the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport’s 2021 Cyber Security Breaches Survey, nearly 40 per cent of businesses reported experiencing a data breach or cyber-attack in the previous 12 months. Given the frequency of such incidents and the increase in online shopping, it’s clear that protecting customers’ data must be a high priority.
Steps to Take
For organisations to properly manage the many changes caused or accelerated by the pandemic, flexibility and open-mindedness will be of the utmost importance. Employers should consider the following steps:
- Look ahead—Although it may be impossible to always know what the future holds, it’s necessary to try. Regularly exploring and analysing industry patterns can help organisations predict future trends or potential problems.
- Master technology—Technological advancement creates many new possibilities but may also result in greater expectations from clients and customers. Employers must understand and optimise modern capabilities or risk falling behind their competitors.
- Prioritise key issues—Trust and reputation have always been key components to running a successful organisation. Issues like equality, diversity and eco-friendly sustainability should be more greatly emphasised after being brought into the spotlight during the pandemic. Explore the environmental, social and governance (ESG) agenda and develop strategies and initiatives that prioritise its standards.
- Revisit supply chains—Given the recent interruptions and complications that have emerged related to the transport of goods, organisations must reconsider best practices. It’s necessary to remain apprised of changing conditions and regulations, such as adjustments to customs controls between the UK and EU that will come into effect in 2022.
The coronavirus pandemic has acted as a catalyst for many trends and changes that will affect employers across a variety of sectors. Given the uncertainty and lack of familiarity with current market conditions, it’s imperative that organisations perform a thorough reassessment of daily operations and best practices. Those that do so successfully may find themselves at a significant advantage in the post-coronavirus world.
The content of this publication is of general interest and is not intended to apply to specific circumstances or jurisdiction. It does not purport to be a comprehensive analysis of all matters relevant to its subject matter. The content should not, therefore, be regarded as constituting legal advice and not be relied upon as such. In relation to any particular problem which they may have, readers are advised to seek specific advice from their own legal counsel. Further, the law may have changed since first publication and the reader is cautioned accordingly. © 2021 Zywave, Inc. All rights reserved.